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NIKE SPORTS MANAGEMENT: PART II
Published December 2, 1994
Here is the second part of our conversation with Terdema Ussery, President of Nike Sports Management: THE DAILY: Do basketball players have more appeal internationally because of the NBA's efforts? USSERY: Yes, unequivocally, without a doubt. The NBA has done just a fantastic job spreading the gospel of basketball around the globe. It would be easy for anyone to go and do an exhibition game in another country, but I think the NBA does it so well. And that is a distinguishing feature about them -- when the league goes overseas they try to do it in a first class way, and as a result, people want to be affiliated and associated with the NBA and with the players in the league. There is absolutely no question that the league's marketing efforts have really opened up a lot of opportunities for the individual athlete. They have also aligned themselves with companies like Nike that have also done a lot of global marketing. THE DAILY: Is there a negative fallout from comments such as Alonzo Mourning saying "I play for Nike"? Is that seen as a negative from your vantage point? USSERY: Certainly it's not a negative from our perspective. The bottom line is that it was an isolated incident and -- because we are the biggest sports and fitness company in the world -- people are always going to be looking to come at us for one reason or another. Obviously, Alonzo's statement was one that generated a lot of interest in the Charlotte area, but it didn't bother us at all. We liked the fact that he is loyal to the brand -- he is a family guy. Certainly in Nike Sports Management, what we like to say is that we are inviting athletes to join the Nike family in the most intimate way, and we appreciate that loyalty -- so from our perspective it is not a problem. THE DAILY: Did Michael Jordan's retirement from basketball create a vacuum in the sports world in terms of a mega- personality, and did it create one for Nike as well? USSERY: Everyone here knew that Michael was going to be leaving the game eventually, and -- quite frankly -- those internal conversations about the post-Jordan era had been going on for a couple of years. So, while it was disappointing from a fan perspective, we were prepared to move forward and I think we have. THE DAILY: With so many battling over the over assuming Michael's throne -- are we ever going to see one athlete dominate the scene the way he did? USSERY: That is a tough question. He was clearly the best in the business at what he did. ... He was certainly an extremely unique athlete, period -- not just any basketball player, but an athlete in the sense of his character, his heart. Michael's unselfishness really transcended not only basketball, but all of sport and gave everybody something to relate to. But I'm sure that in the future there will be someone else that will emerge who will be called the greatest of his era. THE DAILY: In terms of Nike Sports Management, are there other avenues beyond player representation that your group would explore? Team ownership or event management? USSERY: Right now team ownership is not something on the plate. But, we are doing consultant work with several companies. We are very quiet about it because we don't see the need to be out there trumpeting ourselves in that regard. What we are doing is helping people develop concepts that may be unique in the sports arena and looking at channels that might not have been viewed as channels of distribution for sports as a way to get a brand message out there.